by Richard Mansel
In John 17:21 we find Jesus praying that we would all be united as one. Ephesians 4:4 says that there is only “one body” (NKJV).
We want all people to be united into one body of believers serving God. Division is the cruel face we show the sinful world, validating their suppositions about Christianity.
The question is not whether we should be united, but on what basis we should do so.
In Ephesians 2:14-18, we find Paul teaching that the Gentiles and Jews were brought together to form one united body through the cross of Christ. “For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of division between us” (Ephesians 2:14). Jesus put to death the “enmity” between them (2:16). Now that they were united they were built “together for a habitation of God in the Spirit” (2:22).
Paul continues this theme when he writes that they were to be “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (4:3). Later, he writes, “till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (4:13).
Paul teaches that the Gentiles and the Jews were to be united in Christ around the Spirit. In Ephesians 4:14-15, we find Paul encouraging them to be united in the truth so they would not be deceived by false doctrines. They were not to be as the sinners who were past feeling and did not listen to the teachings and truth of Jesus (4:20-21).
Paul is teaching that the unity of believers is accomplished through the truth of God found in Scripture. The Spirit delivered the Word of God to us (2 Peter 1:20-21; John 16:13; 1 Corinthians 2:13). Within the Spirit we have the bond of peace as we unite spiritually around the Word of God. In fact, the word “bond” in Ephesians refers to being chained together.
In John 17:21, before Jesus said we should be united, he said, “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world” (John 17:14). We are set apart from the world by the Word of God and the blood of Christ. Therefore, the Word should be our bond and rallying point.
When we decide to be united as a religious world, we must unite in something larger than the whole. Something outside of the human world, so to speak. That which we unite around must be perfect in order to endure.
We unite around the perfect Word of God and it takes our pride out of the picture. When we try to unite around the human concept of “love” and leave the Bible behind, we are agreeing to disagree and there will always be seething, hard feelings between us. When we unite around the Bible, we can turn all of our energies to fighting Satan. Removing bitterness and rivalries will make the bond even more resilient.
God’s plan is perfect. Yet, it will be painful because it will require that we all bow our stubborn wills and yield completely to God’s will. We remove our opinions and desires and do what the Book says. This seems an impossible dream. But that says more about our disunity and weaknesses than it does about God’s plan (Matthew 7:13-14).
by Richard Mansel